Black Star Canyon, located in Orange County in the trail-filled Santa Ana mountains, has seen a lot of death. A lot of blood. And today, a lot of ghosts. Black Star Canyon is an important archaeological site, as the main source of artifacts of the local members of the Shoshone American Indian tribe.
Back in the 1800s, though, the Shoshone were a source of much conflict. The native people fought hard against what they saw as encroachment by the Spanish, and later by American trappers and settlers.
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Black Star Canyon Hauntings
Even after the Shoshone were long gone, at least from our physical plane, a dark influence seemed to remain over the site.
In the fading days of the Wild West, Black Star Canyon was the scene of multiple gruesome murders.
Today, the place is renowned as one of the most psychically active areas in Southern California.
Countless ghost hunters and paranormal investigators have braved the darkness of a night in the Canyon.
Many of them have even returned alive.
There is so much history and lore surrounding this place, from the Shoshone to the murders, to the spirits that stalk it today.
War in Black Star Canyon
The first of many conflicts with the native Shoshone people occurred in 1831.
Historical accounts tell of an outright battle between a group of American fur trappers and a war party of Shoshone.
The event would come to be known as the Black Star Canyon Indian Massacre.
The trappers were certain that the Shoshone had been stealing horses from the local Spanish ranchos, and perhaps they were.
In those days, Los Angeles was firmly a territory of Spain.
Spanish ranchers worked the land, raising horses and growing crops. They did not typically welcome Americans.
Eager to ingratiate themselves to the Spaniards, the trappers gathered their rifles and followed the trail of the horse thieves.
Coming across a camp in the Black Star Canyon area known as Hidden Ranch, they quickly dropped to the ground to plan.
The camp was old, with signs that the Shoshone had been using the site for years, maybe generations.
There were no women or children present, thankfully, for the trappers meant to leave no prisoners.
A surprise attack was in order.
Opening fire from the ridge above the camp, the trappers killed one Shoshone after another.
The Shoshone, for their part, were armed with bows and a few Spanish blunderbusses, antique even in the day.
They didn’t stand a chance. Not a single American was harmed, and the Shoshone suffered terrible losses.
The few who escaped swore vengeance for their fallen brothers.
They must not have realized the power such an oath can hold over one’s spirit.
Or perhaps they did.
Yet More Bloodshed in Black Star Canyon
Over 50 years later, in 1899, another murder took place at Hidden Ranch.
This one would have dire consequences for all involved.
And perhaps, consequences of a haunted nature for modern visitors.
At this point, the Spanish ranchers were gone.
The area had been settled by Mexican and American homesteaders, who did not always get along.
This particular murder, though, was committed by one American family upon another.
The Hungerfords and the Greggs were two horse ranching families in the area, who came to deadly blows.
A simple dispute over the price of a horse ended in a bona fide shootout with shotguns and pistols.
The sole casualty, James M. Gregg, died after being shot with multiple loads of birdshot and buckshot.
The fighting ceased as everyone realized what they had done.
Choosing not to become fugitives, the Hungerfords rode into town and turned themselves in to the local sheriff.
Murder was infrequent in the area, and the trial became the sort of public spectacle usually associated with another famous Southern California case.
After much legal maneuvering, the case was thrown out of court after Henry Hungerford was found guilty, but before he was sentenced.
Public opinion was that the Judge’s campaign for political office had something to do with it, and he was soon relieved of his position.
It seems that this wasn’t quite enough justice for poor Gregg, though, as he has clearly stuck around.
Ghosts of Black Star Canyon
Black Star Canyon, therefore, is home to not one but two strong sources of paranormal activity.
Battlefields, with their high concentration of suffering and death, are almost always haunted to some degree.
The tormented spirits of the soldiers who fell in battle tend to stay on our plane.
Dying in battle is the very definition of unfinished business.
The Shoshone warriors were seeking to return home to their families, and now they never will.
But they will keep trying.
And if they should come across living souls who remind them of their killers, they’re likely to be quite unhappy.
And then, much later, there was the unjust and unpunished murder of James M. Gregg.
In death as in life, people cannot abide a criminal who gets away with his crime.
It is commonly accepted among Orange County paranormal enthusiasts that Gregg still stalks the landscape, seeking to punish those responsible.
Of course, those responsible are long dead. Gregg must be very frustrated.
Frustrated spirits can be very dangerous.
They may take out their frustrations on just about anyone.
Paranormal Events Today in Black Star Canyon
These days, Orange County embraces the haunted history of Black Star Canyon.
Not the famous wind of Black Star Canyon.
The Canyon is eerily silent. It’s almost dead quiet, and one can hear a pin drop.
Until, that is, the wind starts.
Sudden gusts of wind wail and howl through the canyon, shockingly loud and seeming to come from all around.
Although any traditional scientist will be happy to explain how the shape of the canyon amplifies and focuses the wind, there is another explanation.
It’s the screams of the Shoshone. It’s the murderous howls of James M. Gregg.
It could be both, of course. Ghosts have been known to affect the mortal world in very subtle ways, indeed.
There are other tales of Black Star Canyon, as well.
Everyone from criminals to cultists have been drawn to the area’s dark energy.
It’s not unheard of to find the remains of a black magic ritual, complete with pentagram and a sacrifice.
Visual recordings are a bit more difficult, as the local spirits have learned to tamper with the flash mechanism on even modern phones.
Being ghosts from a somewhat more recent time than most, it’s likely they are aware of what the camera is and what it represents.
Separate from the truly paranormal, some cryptids have even been spotted in the area.
He’s the proud owner of a plaster cast that he took himself of a footprint.
It’s 18 inches long.
Other stories, though less often told, include the ghost of a homeless man who ventured into the canyon and was himself felled by the spirits.
It’s difficult to say which of these have a grain of truth and which are wholly fabricated.
Regardless, one thing is clear.
Whatever your interests in the spooky and the macabre, Black Star Canyon is a location not to be missed.
There really is something for everyone there.
As long as you don’t mind sharing the space with 50 deceased Shoshone warriors, Bigfoot, and a very unfortunate horse rancher.
Directions to Black Star Canyon
Looking for some ghostly thrills? Then Black Star Canyon is for you. But first, you need to know how to get there.
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